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Children's working conditions

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2nd March 2008 Why is it so difficult to find out what children's working conditions were really like? In the 19th century many children faced the dangers of work in the factories and mines. As the demand for goods increased, more and more children were employed. As there were a lot of children, there were many sources that tell us about work conditions in the factories and mines. But it is not always easy to find out what they were really like. One source in the 19th century historians depended on was the interviews. ...read more.


Interviews were a unreliable and untrustworthy source. An example of this source is the extract taken from the Report of the Select Committee of Factory Children's Labour 1831-32. It's clearly produced by a factory reformer because otherwise the leading questions would've been leading towards nice answers that gave the factories good reviews. Another source we have the same problem with is photographs and paintings. Two paintings from the 19th century showed completely opposite views. One painting was of Scottish children and their parents in the fields at harvest time and the other shows a gang of children labouring in the fields with one boy lying faintly on the ground. ...read more.


Another reliable source is an extracts from the parish register, it is very useful as it has every death and the age of people who have died. The source we have from Radstock in Somerset shows 5 children between the ages of 8-12 have died from working conditions between 1820 and 1842. So as we have gathered, it was very hard to find a reliable enough source to make sure children were working in the correct working conditions. But eventually new laws were introduced such as the Mines Act of 1842 and the Factory Acts of 1833 and 1847 changed all this. Today there are very strict laws and hardly anyone disobeys them, but now if they did they would get a very high punishment such as imprisonment. ...read more.

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